BREAKING NEWS: After spending a bunch of money on a blockbuster motion picture, a Hollywood studio would like to turn that movie into its own franchise. This will come as quite a shock to the one person on the internet who is both familiar enough with the Assassin’s Creed franchise to get excited for the movie adaptation but who honestly believed that 20th Century Fox was taking a one-and-done approach with the film.

In a recent conversation with Cinemablend (via iO9), actor Michael Fassbender explained that the producers of Assassin’s Creed had envisioned the film as part of a larger franchise, splitting its main narrative across several films:

This is the sort of origin of his story. We have an idea of where he’s going to go over the next two films. We kind of did a three-film arc. We’ll wait and see how people respond to this, but for sure, we have an idea of where he’s going to go next.

I take no pleasure in the failure of any film  —  big or small  —  but I have a very hard time imagining that Assassin’s Creed will make it to all three films unless international audiences fall for it in a real big way. Last week, I mentioned some early projections from The Wrap that have Assassin’s Creed opening at around $20 – 30 million, giving it a tough hill to climb if it’s going to earn back the estimated $200 million budget for the film. And if the audience members who do show up to the film discover that they’ve only paid for a partial story, then odds aren’t great that the word of mouth will carry the movie long enough to overcome a softer opening.

It must be tempting for Hollywood executives to approach each new feature as part of their next big franchise; in theory, this gives them more bang for their buck, as their advertising is laying the groundwork for multiple films, not just one individual title. The only problem is, if you approach your movie as part of a trilogy but don’t actually hook audiences with the first film, all of that hinting and teasing you’ve embedded for future iterations is the very definition of a sunk cost. Say what you will about the Resident Evil movies of the world, but at least those films angle more for the episodic approach, inviting you to finish one arc before moving onto the next step of the franchise. And at this point, 20th Century Fox would probably be thrilled to be tracking at Resident Evil numbers.

Here’s the full plot synopsis for Assassin’s Creed:

Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.

In addition to Michael Fassbender, Assassin’s Creed stars Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, and Brendan Gleeson and will dive into theaters on December 21, 2016.

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